Alastair Cook had two moments of revelation during the Lord’s Test about the reality of no longer being England captain.
He is happy with it too, he was at pains to spell out as he prepares for a second taste at Trent Bridge this week as life in Joe Root’s team.
Cook is looking forward to a new era in which he assists rather than leads, and returns exclusively to his expert role – as England’s all-time number one Test runscorer.
He admits nonetheless there were two snapshots in the 211-run win over South Africa in which he could not hide from himself that some of the limelight which shines on the captain alone was, for him, gone.
The first was perhaps the most predictable, when he had to watch Root walk out to toss up at the start of the Investec series and simply wait to find out whether he would be on his way to the middle to bat or field soon afterwards.
The second came while engaged in the latter, and Root’s vice-captain Ben Stokes unceremoniously informed his former leader that he needed to move and let James Anderson take his position.
“The shock was when Ben Stokes told me to move fielding positions,” said Cook.
“That was when I realised that life was different.
“He told me to swap with Jimmy in a different position, because he thought Jimmy would be better in that position - so not only did I have Jimmy gloating at me, but Ben Stokes telling me where to move.”
It is a situation he knows he must get used to, and he does not think it will be difficult.
“I am happy with my decision,” he added, before recalling with understandably mixed feelings that first task which fell last week to Root instead of him.
“The only bit was seeing Rooty walk down the stairs in his blazer, and working out you will never do that again.
“But I have done my bit. I gave everything to the role, and I move on from it.
“Let’s get behind Joe ... I understand this is the first time I have chatted to the media (about this), but once this is out of the way I hope it will just go back to being normal - and I can score a few runs.”
He has already started to do so, with a crucial second-innings half-century at HQ.
Long before then, in the weeks after resigning as captain in February, Cook began the process of coming to terms with the consequences of his decision.
“It wasn’t relief,” he said.
“I didn’t feel relief ... I felt sadness.
“But as soon as I got on that plane to Dubai with Essex [for a pre-season tour], the challenge of scoring runs and mucking in with the lads, it was quickly forgotten.”
He has realised he can still get plenty out of doing what he is best at.
“I quite like playing cricket actually,” he said.
“It is an amazing thing, what we do.
“Yes, there are tough times and hard moments along the way. But you know, the thought of playing here on Friday in front of a full house, it is not going to be around forever.”
He is confident he will be an asset rather than a hindrance to Root too.
“I don’t feel as if I will be a problem player,” he added.
“I don’t have too much of an ego, so I can get on with it.
“As I said to Rooty, if he wants me to help or if I see something I will tell him - but I will not take offence if he does not take it.”
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